Wednesday, 05 June 2019 08:19

Iran Vows to Keep Missile Program, Rejects US Offer to Negotiate

Iran's Supreme Leader says his country will not give up its missile program after the United States said last week it is willing to negotiate with Iran.

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said in a speech on state television Tuesday "this political trick will not deceive Iranian officials and the Iranian nation."

Khamenei's comments were made on the 30th anniversary of the death of Islamic Republic of Iran founder Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini and one week after U.S. President Donald Trump called on Iran to negotiate a new deal. Trump said Iran "has a chance to be a great country with the same leadership," and that "We're looking for no nuclear weapons."

Iran has previously said the U.S. must return to the agreement before any talks begin.

Iran-U.S. tensions have escalated in the past month, one year after the U.S. withdrew from a pact between Iran and global powers to limit Tehran's nuclear program in exchange for lifting international sanctions.

Khamenei said the U.S. sanctions have adversely affected Iranians and have made better economic conditions the government's top priority.

"Resistance has a cost, but the cost of surrendering to the enemy is higher," he said.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday the U.S. was ready to talk with Iran "with no preconditions," a remark Iran dismissed as "word-play."

Trump has repeatedly criticized the deal, commonly known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), which is designed to limit Iran's nuclear program.

Trump maintains the agreement is not permanent and fails to cover Iran's ballistic missile program.

The pact was signed in 2015 by the U.S., Iran, China, France, Germany, Russia and Britain.

(VOA)

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